Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., said he believed the endorsement of Hagel by Sens. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., the conference chairman, and Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., both staunch Israel supporters, put to rest many Democratic concerns about Hagel’s positions on Israel and Iran.
“I though that was the case as well, and I have not had anyone in the caucus say anything to me expressing concern,” Kaine said.
Nonetheless, Kaine, too, is withholding his endorsement.
“I’m not going to declare in advance of the hearing because it kind of makes the hearing process less relevant,” he said. “But I had a very good discussion with Sen. Hagel, first by phone and then in person, talked about a series of issues.”
One senior Democratic aide said that while some Democratic lawmakers have genuine doubts, many are willing to place their faith in the president’s positions, also recognizing the need not to foul relations with Hagel.
“I am leaning toward supporting Senator Hagel,” said Mary L. Landrieu, D-La. “I think he was an excellent senator: knowledgeable, dedicated, appropriate temperament, willing to find common ground, just the kind of leadership we need in Washington. But I’m not going to make a final decision until I go through the interview process and give my constituents time to give me their views.”
Emily Cadei and Meredith Shiner contributed to this report.